Red-hot 1B Posey shows off speed in win vs Cubs: 'Little faster than I thought'

Red-hot 1B Posey shows off speed in win vs Cubs: 'Little faster than I thought'

SAN FRANCISCO — As umpires back in New York replayed his stolen base over and over again, Buster Posey turned and watched it on the scoreboard at AT&T Park. He looked up at Javier Baez, the Fastest Tagger Alive.

“I think you got me,” Posey said. 

The umpires disagreed, and moments later Posey was racing around third for the final run of a 6-3 win over the Chicago Cubs. 

“It was really close,” Posey said of the play. “I guess I’m a little faster than I thought.”

When the margins are that thin, perhaps he benefits from the occasional position change. With Brandon Belt on the disabled list and a left-hander on the mound, Bruce Bochy shifted Posey to first and put Nick Hundley behind the plate. Posey had a three-run homer. Hundley had a double and guided Ty Blach through his latest strong start. 

Bochy was hesitant when asked if it’s a duo he’ll turn to more often. He would like to get Ryder Jones regular time at first base, with Pablo Sandoval at third. Posey is still the best defensive catcher in the National League, and the Giants won’t move him from his natural position often. 

The results, however, speak for themselves. Posey is batting .444 in 54 at-bats as a first baseman and .302 when he’s behind the plate. 

“It does give him a little break and keeps his legs fresher,” Bochy said.

Posey said there’s a fine line, but noted that first is “definitely less taxing.”

The Giants have always toed that line, and Bochy said he’ll check with Posey to see if he needs a day off Wednesday when the Giants play a day game. The next road trip — to Washington D.C. and Miami — promises to be a scorcher and the coaches will surely keep a close eye on their franchise catcher. 

Belt won’t even be cleared to travel, and as the Giants try to find momentum, maybe they can shift things around for a few weeks. Posey’s numbers at first stand out. Hundley, an offseason addition, is batting .357 over his last 18 games. 

The Giants need to develop Jones and they need to see what they have in Sandoval, but they also want to get that winning taste back, and the Posey-Hundley duo is a pretty good path, especially against lefties. 

“This is workable,” Bochy said. “It is.”

If he does get more time at first, Posey likely will break his modest career-high (six) for stolen bases. He’s perfect in five attempts this season, and he did not think it was a coincidence that good friend Brandon Crawford swiped his third a couple of minutes after Posey took his fifth. 

“Yes, yes, 100 percent (on purpose) — because I’ve already been talking smack,” Posey said. “And I told (Denard) Span that I’m tied with him, so he needs to step it up.”

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase


Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

Tim Lincecum was back on a mound Thursday, trying to prove to teams once again that he still has a little bit of magic left in his right arm. 

The former Giants star held a bullpen session for scouts Thursday in Seattle. The event was closed to the media, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that between 25 and 30 scouts were in attendance. 

And Lincecum may have some of his velocity back. According to Heyman, Lincecum was sitting between 90 and 93 miles per hour. 

Lincecum last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. In that season, his fastball averaged just 88.4 miles per hour. In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum was nowhere near what he once was and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA. 

The Giants planned to be at Lincecum's showcase, according to Insider Alex Pavlovic. 

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Lincecum posted a 108-83 record and a 3.61 ERA. He won back-to-back National Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, was a four-time All-Star and led the league in strikeouts three times. 

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul


Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

SCOTTSDALE — Catchers are usually the only position players to hit on the main field during the first few days of spring training, but Austin Slater snuck into a group Thursday to take a few cuts. With manager Bruce Bochy leaning against the back of the cage, perhaps Slater’s session will serve as a reminder: I’m still here, don’t forget about me.

The 25-year-old broke through last summer before injuries halted his progress. As Slater focused on getting healthy this offseason, Bobby Evans focused on overhauling the outfield. That has left several familiar faces in precarious spots, and Slater finds himself fighting for a fifth outfielder job a year after batting .282 in his first 117 big league at-bats. 

At the same time, he’s trying to balance competition with health. He wants to push for an Opening Day job, but also is very aware that he needs to back it down at times as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

“You want to prove that you can play here and win a job, but (the staff) stressed health over everything,” he said. “It does no good to push and then start the season on the DL. For me, health is the most important thing. I feel like if I’m healthy I can prove myself. There’s nothing I can prove on the DL.”

Slater originally tore his groin on July 8 and the Giants thought it would prove to be a season-ending injury. He worked his way back ahead of schedule, though, seeing limited action before sports hernia surgery the last week of September. “They went in there and cleaned up the groin,” he said, smiling where others might grimace. The procedure kept Slater from playing in the Dominican Republic as planned, although that might have been a blessing in disguise. 

The Giants were aggressive with their winter ball plans because so many young players got hurt during the season. But Jarrett Parker lasted just 24 hours before being sent home with a health issue. Christian Arroyo’s hand swelled up soon after he arrived, and he headed home. Ryder Jones immediately got food poisoning and lost 12 pounds in just over three weeks before player and team decided a mutual parting would be beneficial. 

Slater stayed home throughout, living in the Bay Area and rehabbing. The Giants told him to focus on his rehab instead of lost at-bats and then come out and try to win a job in Scottsdale. By mid-November, he was hitting again. By Thanksgiving, he was on a regular lifting and running schedule. In late January, he felt like his old self again. 

For the Giants, that means a versatile option in a new-look outfield. Slater had a .290/.343/.430 slash line going before his first injury and he’s working to tap into more power. As Bruce Bochy pointed out Thursday, Slater has a long history of putting up numbers at every level. 

“He really did a nice job of figuring out what it takes to play in the major leagues, and he has a tendency throughout his career to just get better,” Bochy said. “You have to love his right-handed bat. He’s got some pop. I think he can play all three outfield positions, so he’s in the mix.”

The Giants have Andrew McCutchen in right and Hunter Pence in left and Austin Jackson as the third guy, and Bochy’s preference is to have a true center fielder as his fourth outfielder. That leaves Slater fighting for the fifth job, alongside many others. No matter what he did last year or does this spring, Slater has options remaining, and that will come into play. A year after using 13 different players in left field, the staff is intent on having greater depth at the Triple-A level. 

Slater is a Stanford product who spent the offseason surrounded by Giants fans. He knows the math after the offseason moves.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It just adds some great guys to learn from, and there are still outfield spots to be won, so it’s not discouraging, it’s encouraging. I didn’t expect them to keep an open roster spot for a guy with 120 at-bats. We’re trying to win a championship here.”